Sunday, July 10, 2016

Save our Community Hospitals

Tomorrow evening (Monday 7/11), a coalition of community, faith, and labor groups will join together in New London to testify against the proposed acquisition of L+M Community Hospital by Yale.
Why has this group devoted so much time and energy into this cause?
We all feel an ethical responsibility to the people of the community and all the residents of the state of Connecticut, to preserve access to high quality, affordable health care.

The proposed acquisition would create a single entity that would control hospital and doctor practices along the bottom third of the state from the New York border into Rhode Island. It would control 60% of Connecticut healthcare.
 Our research and our experience have shown us that this would lead to an elimination of services and an increase in prices.
Unlike other monopolies, this monopoly would face very little community oversight or regulation.
The Connecticut General Assemble and the people of Connecticut recognize these concerns and have outlined them in a law that took effect on January 1 of this year. In fact, the governor has since placed a moratorium on further consolidation until a task force can study it.
Yale, however, circumvented this law by filing it's paper work at the eleventh hour, in December, just before the new law took effect. 

Elimination of services would force patients and families to travel to New Haven for care they now receive in New London and increases in prices would cause an increase in insurance premiums and place further stress on already vulnerable state, local and personnel budgets.

There may be times when these acquisitions are necessary, such as when a larger, more profitable hospital acquires a smaller, financially struggling hospital and can transfer capitol to the struggling hospital.
That is not the case here.
L+M is not a struggling hospital.  It posts a healthy, even robust profit. In fact, it is so financially healthy, it acquired Westerly Hospital a few years ago.  
The purpose of this acquisition is not to help a smaller struggling hospital, it is to achieve a greater market share to be able to negotiate higher compensation from insurance companies who themselves are trying to merge in an effort to better position themselves against such monopolistic hospital systems.

The loser in this arms race for market share strength is the community, through loss of local control, oversight and increased prices.
It is estimated that the increased cost to the State of Connecticut alone, through the effect on state employee healthcare plan, could be $1 million/year. That does not factor in the direct cost to local government plans or resident's plans.

One of the responsibilities of the labor movement is to stand up for all workers, unionized and non, and their families and communities.  We share this responsibility with community and faith groups.
That is why we will be at the state Certificate of Need Hearing at the Holiday Inn at 35 Governor Winthrop Boulevard in New London, starting at 3:00 pm until probably 10 pm.  
You can show your concern and support by coming for any part of it and sitting in the audience, or even better, speaking during public comments. You need not stay all night. 
If you cannot come, please call, email or write your elected leaders and express your concern, and during the upcoming political campaigns, question them and their campaign workers on how they feel about the loss of local control of healthcare to large monopolistic healthcare systems who reward their executives to the tune of millions of dollars a year at the expense of access to high quality, affordable, local healthcare.

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